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Carmen M. Mangion

2 Choosing religious life As you go on you will learn to understand religious life, how it means doing God’s will and not your own. We don’t become nuns because we like it – because the life attracts us – but solely because ‘The Master has come and called us’.1 The persistent myth of the Victorian woman, idle and innocent, performing domestic duties in the private sphere, protected from and unaware of the political world around her, has been rejected by many historians.2 Victorian women’s activities in the public and the private spheres are the centre of a

in Contested identities
Carmen Mangion

Introduction In 1969, Abbess Mary Joseph regaled the Poor Clares of Darlington on her return from the vocations exhibition in Leeds with ‘interesting and amusing’ talks on religious life, ‘especially on how to deal with the modern girl’. The following week, Poor Clare abbess Mother Mary Paula Smallwood of Baddesley Clinton visited Darlington and also ‘entertained us with stories of the “antics” of modern postulants’. 1 The Modern Girl was a recurrent trope which featured even in religious life. Each generation laid claim to its modernity with a Modern Girl

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Catholic women religious in nineteenth-century England and Wales

Roman Catholic women's congregations are an enigma of nineteenth century social history. Over 10,000 women, establishing and managing significant Catholic educational, health care and social welfare institutions in England and Wales, have virtually disappeared from history. In nineteenth-century England, representations of women religious were ambiguous and contested from both within and without the convent. This book places women religious in the centre of nineteenth-century social history and reveals how religious activism shaped the identity of Catholic women religious. It is devoted to evolution of religious life and the early monastic life of the women. Catholic women were not pushed into becoming women religious. On the basis of their available options, they chose a path that best suited their personal, spiritual, economic and vocational needs. The postulancy and novitiate period formed a rite of passage that tested the vocation of each aspirant. The book explores the religious activism of women religious through their missionary identity and professional identity. The labour of these women was linked to their role as evangelisers. The book deals with the development of a congregation's corporate identity which brought together a disparate group of women under the banner of religious life. It looks specifically at class and ethnicity and the women who entered religious life, and identifies the source of authority for the congregation and the individual sister.

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Carmen Mangion

think? Yes, it’s your world and you gave it to us to bring into fullness. This I know deep down, so I ask you now for the courage to move on, the patience to accept people digging me up with new ideas, the love to love them and their keen movements even when I revolt from change. 1 Its author was rooted in a form of religious life that brought her security, peace and stability. She was taught not to criticise, and in her silence and deference she also kept quiet about the ‘funny things’ of religious life. She may have felt pressured to change. She does not speak

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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Carmen M. Mangion

been no comprehensive work done to calculate the number of women who entered religious life in nineteenth-century England, although various studies exist, including this one, which include a calculation of the number of women religious who entered specific congregations. 2 Contested identities her will and now and again as an innocent led astray by the manipulative schemes of the Catholic clergy. The Catholic press and internal convent documents offered a different depiction of women religious. The Catholic press represented nuns as pious, obedient, subordinate

in Contested identities
Britain, 1945–90
Author: Carmen Mangion

Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age examines the changes in religious life for women religious in Britain from 1945 to 1990 identifying how community and individual lives were altered. This work is grounded in three core premises: women religious were influenced by and participated in the wider social movements of the long 1960s; women’s religious institutes were transnational entities and part of a larger global happening; and the struggles of renewal were linked to competing and contradictory ideas of collective, institutional identities. The work pivots on the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), but considers pre and post Vatican II social, cultural and religious events and social movements of the 1960s as influencers in these changes. It interrogates ‘lived experience’ by examining the day-to-day lives of women religious. Though rooted in the experiences of women religious in Britain, the book probes the relationships and interconnectivities between women religious within and across national divides as they move from institutions embedded in uniformity to the acceptance of cultural plurality. It also engages with the histories of the social movements of the long 1960s. For too long, religion has been relegated to its own silo, unlinked to the ‘radical sixties’ and depicted as ultimately obstructionist to its social movements. To contest this, female religious life is examined as a microcosm of change in the Catholic Church pointing to the ‘new thinking and freer lifestyles’ that allowed for the questioning of institutional cultures.

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Carmen M. Mangion

women who had ‘the same idea at the same time’. Yet this idea was not new; it had been evolving over the past eighteen hundred years.3 Women’s pursuit of religious life was not static despite Rome’s attempts to rigidly define monastic life for women. Women tested the boundaries of their enclosed existence. Sometimes they were thrust back into the cloister; at other times they found a space that allowed them to modify the prescribed monastic model. By the nineteenth century, the dominance of simple-vowed congregations and religious life outside the cloister became the

in Contested identities
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Post-war modernity and religious vocations
Carmen Mangion

In this crisis of vocations, be watchful lest the customs, the way of life or the asceticism of your religious families should prove a barrier or be a cause of failures. 1 Introduction Thirty-something Catholics Edna John and Doris Andrews met while working at the Catholic Truth Society. In 1936, they realised they had something in common: both felt drawn to a vocation to religious life but were hindered by family responsibilities and poor health. During the Second World War, like many civilians, they ‘did their bit’ and became air raid wardens. In

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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Carmen Mangion

religious life were leading to the ‘emancipation’ of women religious. But did she consider that a good thing? Speaking to novice mistresses on a training day in the early 1960s, she underscored the difficulties that women religious faced, inside and outside the convent and in the ‘critical eyes of the world’. Disparaging female religious who were ignorant of world problems, she instead expected them to be aware of the major ‘crisis of their times’: atomic weapons, strike mentality, ‘atheistic communism’ and the break-up of family life. At the same time she regretted the

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
Carmen Mangion

shock when after a couple of generations when they suddenly came in querying everything. Gracious me! [laughs] … the first big shock, joke, was that when they were going off to college they expected to have a new set of crayons. … but it was different to the way that one had learnt really, not just in the community. Because in the war you never expected anything new, you wore things out till the end, so it was a different way of thinking, you know? 1 Born in the late 1920s, this sister entered religious life just after the war. She was aware religious life would be

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age